I adore my dentist – the office was recommended to me by an American friend after I’d visited a French dentist for a cleaning that felt more like a sandblasting.
My dentist, to whom I am deeply devoted, is up is the street from Alma-Marceau, conveniently located on both the bus and train lines that run past my house. The office is large, and in what was probably a ground floor apartment. This is common in France — even my tiny building is mixed used! Once you get past the three doors and into the waiting room, the game is afoot.
Oddly enough, it’s very poor form to be late (seems logical) but I have never waited fewer than 15 minutes past my appointment time before being taken into the back room. Surely, if an office regularly runs 15-30 minutes late, it’d be fine to arrive a little past the hour, but no. So instead, I arrive on time and leaf through French magazines or the occasional news paper, sinking into one of the giant couches lining the walls.
My dental hygienist is named Anne, and she’s amazing. I know a lot of people hate the dentist, but there’s something so safe and secure about having someone check your teeth for problems, clean them, and send you on your way. The office is bright, the chairs remind me of an advertisement for an American dentist office, and maybe it’s the comfort of being in a familiar environment that I find most comforting.
I’ve been told several times that Americans always have very good teeth, which isn’t a surprise considering how much we invest in orthodontia. I never thought my teeth were particularly nice, considering I wish they were whiter, or slightly smaller, but the dentist, a giant, genial, trilingual man, took one look at my mouth and told me the whole story.
He asked if I had taken antibiotics as a child, and I told him I’d been on everything under the sun for terrible ear infections. That, he said, was the reason my teeth weren’t quite as white as I liked – if I’d been given doxycycline or tetracycline, they’d be different for life. Not exactly what you’d want to hear about the permanence of your colouring, but considering he warned me away from teeth bleaching (useless) or alleviated my concern over my brushing habits, it was welcome news nonetheless.
My insurance premium rose this year, but with a job on the way, I’m happy to keep paying so that I can see my dentist every 6 or so months for a cleaning and a moment of comfort in a very American, French dentist office. After all, Americans have good teeth, so I want to be diligent with mine!